Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Tony the cyclist repeats the story of Detroit's Walking Man

A familiar looking story came out of Winter Storm Bella, but it wasn't one about blankets of snow covering the area, although that happened.  Instead, it was a near-repeat of James Robertson ABC's Person of the Week, the top post for the fourth year of the blog.  This time, it was a man cycling to his job in the suburbs instead of one walking there.  WXYZ tells the tale in Local man who bikes to work daily gets a new car thanks to the kindness of strangers.*

It's a story 7 Action News first brought you less than a week ago, a young man stopped to help a man riding his bike to work in the snow.
I'll be a good environmentalist and recycle for my response.  As I wrote on this blog, "I found this a heartwarming story of human persistence and empathy leading to a success of charity, but I also found it illustrated the failure of mass transit in metro Detroit, where more than half of the jobs are beyond the reach of public transit, including Robertson's."  Substitute Tony Berard's name for James Robertson's, and the story is exactly the same.

Follow over the jump for more of my reaction.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Cyber Monday is ten years old this month

Small Business Saturday has only been around since 2010.  That makes it half the age of Cyber Monday, which CNN explains is a decade old in How did 'Cyber Monday' begin?

CNN's Chris Welch explains how Cyber Monday got its name in 2005 in celebration of the big shopping day's 10th anniversary.
Welcome to a successful piece of corporate PR, right up there with Sweetest Day.

Whether shopping from home or work, keep calm and carry on despite the stink of retail desperation.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

J.J. Abrams and his mystery box

For Entertainment Sunday, I'm sharing a TED talk by J.J. Abrams,* one of my favorite directors, about the object that represents his philosophy of story telling: The Mystery Box.

J.J. Abrams traces his love for the unseen mystery - a passion thats evident in his films and TV shows, including Cloverfield, Lost and Alias -- back to its magical beginnings.
From his TED page:
Why you should listen

As the Emmy-winning creator of the smart, addictive TV dramas Lost, Alias and Felicity, J.J. Abrams' name looms large on the small screen. As the writer/director behind the blockbuster explode-a-thon Mission: Impossible III, Cloverfield and the new Star Trek movie, these days Abrams also rules the big screen -- bringing his eye for telling detail and emotional connection to larger-than-life stories.

Abrams' enthusiasm -- for the construction of Kleenex boxes, for the quiet moments between shark attacks in Jaws, for today's filmmaking technologies, and above all for the potent mystery of an unopened package -- is incredibly infectious.

What others say

“As a boy, JJ Abrams was fascinated with magic. As a television writer, director, and producer, he has beguiled audiences with a masterful use of suspense, plot reversals, and special effects.” — Wired
Abrams' interest in character explains what I observed in his "Star Trek" movie.
While J.J. Abrams went to great lengths to free his movies from the strictures of Star Trek canon by creating a new timeline that diverged just before Kirk's birth, he also went to great lengths to ensure that the characters would stay as intact as possible.
The characters were important to him, not the events, although the next movie had echoes of what occurred in the TV show and second movie.

So much for J.J. Abrams and Star Trek.  As for how he treats Star Wars, there is already an answer to the question "Will the lens flares on Tatooine be doubled?"  It's no.  Thank goodness!

*I've decided to use a J.J. Abrams label.  Took me long enough.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Small Business Saturday 2015

It's Small Business Saturday again, so it's time for me to report how well American Express's effort to promote local small business is going.  If nothing else, WXYZ in Detroit is doing its best to feature the day.  Yesterday, the station featured Michigan products sold at Abundant Living in Wyandotte in Small Business Saturday.

Pam Riley from Abundant Living talks about how you'll be supporting the local economy by shopping on Small Business Saturday.
Another Wyandotte business, Total Health Foods, was featured this morning in Shop small on Small Business Saturday.

The day after Black Friday is always Small Business Saturday, and you're encouraged to shop small today.
Both stores in Wyandotte feature a lot of Michigan foods, which cuts down on fossil fuel use and transportation costs.  Not only are the customers shopping locally, the business are, too.  Keep up the good work.

Friday, November 27, 2015

WXYZ on saving Detroit's Thanksgiving parade

While I've been blogging about the Macy's Parade, Detroit held its own Thanksgiving parade.  I've written about it and the fireworks show as examples of how "People want their entertainment, especially if it comes in the form of an annual civic ritual to celebrate the seasons" and that "the fireworks and parade will continue" as "the entertainment people demand will go on."  That's been true for as long as I've lived in Michigan.  WXYZ has the story of the parade being rescued in 1990 in Looking back at saving the Thanksgiving parade.

We're looking back at how the owner of Art Van Furniture saved the Thanksgiving Parade.
After 25 years, I'd forgotten that story.  It was worth hearing about it again.

Follow over the jump for WXYZ and WDIV on this year's parade.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Prehistoric creatures to float over New York on Thanksgiving

I'm not done with the Macy's Thanksgiving ParadeTwo balloons depicting prehistoric creatures will join today's parade.  First, Scrat the saber-toothed rodent from the "Ice Age" movies.

Next, Dino the Sinclair Oil dinosaur.

Dino has been in the parade before, as an earlier version flew in the parade during the 1960s and 1970s beginning in 1962 to promote the 1964-1965 Worlds Fair, which I attended as a child.  It's returned, as the image below shows, to celebrate Sinclair Oil's 100th anniversary.

Prehistoric animals and a holiday parade.  I couldn't resist.  Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Walled Lake Central Marching Band in Macy's Parade

I didn't get the results I was hoping for in Michigan marching band championships, both official and unofficial.  Walled Lake Central's marching band not only did not win (Sanford Meridian's band did), it came in eighth.  However, the band has something else to look forward to, marching in tomorrow's Macy's Parade.  Here's the announcement from May 2014: WL Central's Marching Band to march in 2015 Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.

Macy's Parade officials lead by Wesley Whatley, Creative Director of Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade®and head of the Parade's Band selection committee made a special announcement inviting Michigan's Walled Lake Central High School Marching Band to the 2015 Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. Macy's Parade staff, worked secretly with school officials including band director David Rogers, to surprise members of the marching band with the news that they have been selected out of hundreds of nationwide applicants to be one of 10 marching bands in the 2015 Parade. The news was delivered at a special surprise gathering arranged by school staff.
I'll repeat what I said to Plymouth-Canton's band* four years ago: Have a great time in New York City. The world will be watching you.

*Plymouth-Canton's band has their own televised holiday event to look forward to; they're marching in the 2016 Rose Parade.  This is a good year for Michigan's top high school marching bands.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

The smart money is on Rubio to beat Trump

I opened Bye, Bobby! Jindal drops out with dueling observations on the state of the GOP field.
Kunstler remarked on the state of the campaign at his blog yesterday.
The cowardice in the college executive suites is mirrored in our national politics, where no persons of real standing will dare step forward to oppose the juggernaut of Hillery-the-Grifter, or take on the clowning Donald Trump on the grounds of his sheer mental unfittedness to lead a government.
I disagreed with him about the Republicans being unwilling to take on Trump.*
There are plenty of people with stature in the Republican Party trying to dislodge Trump and Carson from the top two spots.   Off the top of my head, I count four current senators, three current governors, a former senator, and four former governors, along with a former CEO of a Fortune 500 corporation, all trying to beat that "immigrant-bashing carnival barker" and his competitor Doctor Pyramid.  They're just not succeeding at it.
That was only half of what I had to say on the topic of Republicans taking on Trump.  Here's the rest, which I promised to use in the comments to Record page views, comments, and 100th follower: Monthly meta for October 2015.
Right now, the smart money is on Rubio, as PredictWise's aggregate of betting markets gives him a 47% chance of winning the nomination.  Trump may be in second, but he's well behind at 19%.  Then comes Cruz at 13% and Bush at 10%.  The rest of the field, including Carson, is in single digits.  Let's see if the people putting their money where their mouths are end up being right or losing their shirts.
Since last Monday, those odds have moved.  Rubio is still at 47%, while Trump and Cruz have both gone up to 22% and 16% respectively.  Bush is still at 10%, while Christie is hanging on at 4% and Carson has fallen to 2%.  The "smart money" among gamblers may think that Rubio is the most likely to win the nomination, but they are taking both Trump and Cruz more seriously.  That last is not good news.

Follow over the jump for more.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Record page views, comments, and 100th follower: Monthly meta for October 2015

October 2015 was another record-setting month.  First, page views shattered the previous high of 14,981 page views during August 2015 by 7,500 with a new record of 22,491.  Second, last month exceeded last month's 74 comments with 89, another new record. Finally, the blog reached a milestone with its 100th follower, Robin of Your Daily Dose and TV Function Junction.  I'm  celebrating the record month by sharing the entries with the most comments, most likes, and most page views, beginning with the post that also got the most comments last month, "Science fiction speaks to our current anxieties."  Thanks to a battle with several persistent spammers, this post is now the most commented on entry in the history of the blog with 52 comments, half of them deleted.  Fourteen more came in October, beating out the next entry by eight.

"Hurricane Joaquin as viewed from Michigan," posted October 2, 2015, came in second with six comments thanks to Paul W. and I having a conversation.  It was the entry actually posted last month with the most comments.  All those comments only gained it 112 page views according to the raw counter, not enough to earn it a place on the top ten lists otherwise.  It also earned its page views by being shared at Kunstler's blog.

Follow over the jump for the most read and liked entries of October 2015.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Katniss Everdeen dethrones James Bond at the U.S. box office

Two weeks ago, "SPECTRE" knocked "The Martian" out of number one at the U.S. box office.  This week, it was Katniss Everdeen's turn to assassinate James Bond as "The Hunger Games" Mockingjay-Part 2" came in first, handily outpacing "SPECTRE."  Even in victory, the news was not all good as Daily Variety via Reuters reported earlier today that 'Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 2' debuts to franchise-low $101 million.
"The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 2" dominated the weekend box office with the final film in the science-fiction franchise debuting to $101 million.

That ranks as the year's fifth biggest opening, but it wasn't as big a sendoff for Katniss Everdeen and her fellow revolutionaries as some had predicted.

The massive bow falls short of tracking that projected the picture would top $120 million in its initial weekend in theaters. It also represents a low for the series, falling far short of the $158.1 million high-water mark established by 2013's "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire." It's a sign, perhaps, that interest in the dystopian world of Panem has crested.
The cresting of the youth dystopia wave is a topic I'll explore over the jump, along with other aspects of the series' legacy.  Those will come after the rest of the box office report.
The weakness of the new films allowed holdovers "Spectre" and "The Peanuts Movie" to pad their box office results. The latest Bond adventure added $14.6 million to its $153.7 million domestic haul, nabbing second place on the charts. "The Peanuts Movie" finished third, picking up $12.8 million to push its stated total to $98.9 million.
The "new films" mentioned were "The Night Before," which earned $10.1 million to come in fourth and "The Secret in Their Eyes," which grossed $6.6 million to eke out fifth place.  That last film may do better at the awards shows than the theaters, along with other films geared to an older audience.  Look for those to make their money on cable and streaming services.

Follow over the jump for reviews of the final installment of "The Hunger Games" from Vox and io9.